Tennis match-fixing controversy hit Novak Djokovic ahead of his third round matchup against Italy’s Andreas Seppi at the 2016 Australian Open in Melbourne.
Djokovic was at the centre of the match-fixing controversy reported earlier this week by the BBC and BuzzFeed. After admitting he was offered $200,000 to lose a match during a tournament in Russia eight years ago, Djokovic found himself as one of the suspected match fixers, according to an Italian newspaper.
The report from the Italian newspaper alleged Djokovic purposely lost a match in 2007 at the French Open against France’s Fabrice Santoro. The Serb lost the showdown 6-3 6-2, and on Wednesday dismissed any rumours of match-fixing involvement.
"You can pick any match that you like that the top player lost and just create a story out of it," Djokovic said, reports the BBC. "I think it's not supported by any kind of proof, any evidence, any facts. It's just speculation, so I don't think there is a story about it."
Djokovic on Wednesday defeated France's Quentin Halys in straight sets 6-1 6-2 7-6(3) in a match that lasted one hour and 40 minutes. In another impressive performance, the world No. 1 finished with five service breaks and hit 42 winners with only 14 unforced errors.
However, Djokovic faces a tough third round opponent in Seppi, who upset Roger Federer at exactly the same round of last year’s Australian Open. The 28-year-old Serbian expects to have the best of Seppi, who defeated American Denis Kudla 7-5 6-4 6-4.
"He won against (Roger) Federer last year in third round,” Djokovic said, reports Yahoo Sports. “I think he deserves a lot of respect for the amount of years that he spent in top 30," Djokovic said about playing Seppi.”
If Djojovic gets past Seppi, he is projected for a showdown against Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinal rounds, and could face Federer in the semifinals.